By Kelvin Obambon
Players and officials of Rovers Football Club Calabar have undergone COVID-19 and Electroencephalographic (ECG) tests as mandated by the Nigeria National League (NNL) in compliance with the Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) directives ahead of the commencement of the 2020/2021 season.
The tests which were conducted on Wednesday 13th January, at the General Hospital Calabar, followed the new partnership between Rovers FC Calabar and the Cross River State Ministry of Health.
Electroencephalographic test is vital to check the state of the heart of each of the players to ascertain their fitness or otherwise.
Commenting on the partnership between the State Ministry of Health and Rovers FC Calabar, the Commissioner for Health and Chairman of Cross River State COVID-19 Taskforce, Dr Betta Edu, said the Ministry sees the partnership as a way of supporting the club in its desire to achieve good result in the Nigeria National League.
She said: “Rovers FC Calabar applied to the Ministry to partner with them in the area of performing necessary medical checks for players. These include ECG, COVID-19, fitness and other general medical checkup. So the Ministry agreed to partner with the club and provide most of the medical services free of charge.”
Dr Edu disclosed that the Ministry will also provide ambulance that would be on standby during Rovers FC Calabar home matches to respond to any emergency.
Speaking shortly after the tests, the club Chairman, Mr Ebam Ejen, who also had himself tested, thanked the state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade for the tremendous support given to Rovers Football Club Calabar.
Ejen noted that from 1999 to date, no administration has placed premium on Rovers Football Club Calabar more than the Prof. Ben Ayade-led administration, adding that the enormous support from the state government has significantly changed the fortunes of football in Cross River.
He, therefore, assured that the club, under the current management and players, would justify government’s huge investment by taking Rovers FC Calabar back to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), where it rightly belongs.
“First, I want to thank his Excellency, Senator (Prof.) Ben Ayade for the opportunity given to us to run this team, Rovers FC Calabar. He has been very supportive. Rovers FC Calabar is alive today because of the governor’s commitment and vision to see the club break national, continental and intercontinental frontiers.
“I make bold to say that Rovers FC Calabar has never had it this good since 1999; and with this level of support, we can only hope for the best, as we are determined in our collective resolve as a team, to take Rovers FC Calabar back to the NPFL where it ought to have been.”, he said.
The Chairman also thanked Dr Betta Edu, whose ministry, he said, facilitated the medical processes, describing her as a woman with a heart of gold.
He equally saluted and acknowledged the contributions of the Honourable Commissioner for Sports and Cinematography, Chief Offu Aya, who according to him, has brought a complete turn around in sports development in the state.
“I want to also thank the energetic Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu, a woman with a heart of gold. I only called and requested that we wanted the Ministry to partner with the club, as it has become very necessary that all the clubs in Nigeria undergo COVID-19 and ECG test for players. Immediately, she gave a nod to that and today we here undergoing all the tests.
“I cannot thank the Commissioner for Sports, Chief Offu Aya, enough because he is indeed a father; a man that has come to turn the fortunes of sports around. He has been very supportive and we promise as a team to make him and the entire state proud”, Ejen concluded.
The Nigeria National League is tentatively scheduled to resume on the 18th of January, 2021, after about a year of hiatus forced on it by the COVID-19 pandemic.